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All You Need to Fill out the FAFSA

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Six Items and 22 Minutes: All You Need to Fill Out the FAFSA

Filing the FAFSA isn’t as complicated or time-consuming as it seems – you only need about six documents and 22 minutes! So in the time it takes you to catch up on your Instagram feed, you can take the critical first step in getting the money you need to attend college!

Here’s a checklist of everything you and your parent need to fill out, sign and submit the FAFSA:

[ ] An FSA ID. Your FSA ID allows you to log in to your account, sign the FAFSA and make changes or add schools. You and your parent must create separate FSA IDs. Create this first!

[ ] You and your parent’s Social Security or Alien Registration number. Here’s what to do if your parent doesn’t have a Social Security number.

[ ] Driver’s license (if you have one)

[ ] Your and your parent’s federal income tax returns and W-2s from 2020 (you can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to import this data!)

[ ] Bank statement

[ ] If applicable, other records of money earned, and records of investments and untaxed income

Don’t worry if you can’t find these materials right away: you can start the FAFSA and come back as many times as you need to update information or add schools. The important thing is to get started!

Want to know more? Use this worksheet to get a sneak preview of what the form looks like and the questions it asks, and check out the FAFSA YouTube channel for step-by-step instructions on creating an FSA ID and filling out the form. Your school’s financial aid office will help you with any questions you have at any time in the process, so don’t hesitate to contact them as well.

File your FAFSA now!


Financial Aid Vocab Cheat Sheet

Financial aid has a language all its own – one with lots of acronyms and industry-specific terms that can sound scary. This glossary will take some of the mystery out of these terms and help you make the best decisions about your awards.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The amount that the federal government believes your family can contribute to one year of college. Colleges use this, among other things, to determine financial need.

Cost of Attendance (COA): An estimate of how much it costs to attend a college. The COA includes the price of tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies and other expenses associated with attending that school.

Financial need: The difference between Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and a college’s Cost of Attendance (COA).

Net price: How much it will cost you to attend a college for one year after your scholarships and grants, loans and work-study are subtracted from the COA.

Use our Net Price Calculator to estimate your net price.

Student Aid Report (SAR): This report shows you what data is on your FAFSA, some information about the aid for which you’re eligible and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Subsidized loan: A need-based loan which is interest-free while you’re in school.

Unsubsidized loan: A loan for which you don’t have to demonstrate financial need, but on which interest will accrue while you are in school. You are not required to make payments while you are enrolled, but you may choose to do so.

Scholarship/grant: A monetary gift that doesn’t have to be repaid. It is provided by the federal or state government, the institution, and/or private organizations. It can be one-time or renewable, and based on grades, talents or other criteria.

Work-study: A part-time job for students with financial need.

You can contact your school’s financial aid office at any time if you need some help understanding terms like these. They’ll be happy to help you translate them!

File your FAFSA now!


Contact Us

Our Financial Aid Offices will work with you to ensure you have access to the resources you need to pay for college. Our goal is to make sure all qualified applicants can invest in an education here.

If you have any questions about financial aid, need help filling out the FAFSA or encounter special financial circumstances your family is experiencing, please call us at (510) 436-1327 or email us.